Re: Beamer

From: Robert J. Bradbury (
Date: Wed Dec 19 2001 - 16:39:11 MST

On Wed, 19 Dec 2001, Technotranscendence wrote:

> It seems to me, the conventional model of the
> production of fossil fuels -- as produced from certain kinds sedimentary
> deposits of organics -- remains the best supported. Please, anyone here
> who is a geologist might inform us if it is otherwise.

No geologist, but I can speak as a microbiologist. All known life requires
carbon *period*. If Anders/Daniel are right and the exercise in Sweeden
was into cracked granite, I'm dubious of expecting to find any oil underneath
it. Most granite comes from molten intrusions from below. No large carbon
sources to be found in it. In carbonate rocks (e.g. limestone), peat bogs
buried under basaltic lava flows and accumulating sediments burying
organic material -- you have a source of carbon. But *not* in granite.
Yes, I suppose you could argue a carbonaceous chondrite could impact
and leave behind a large amount of carbon, but I would expect most of
it to get turned into CO2 on impact.

I don't disagree with Mike that there may be a lot of undiscovered
oil out there. I'm unsure as to whether Gold said the best place
to look for oil was in granitic rocks (if so that makes little sense).
I *am* sure that Gold is promoting the concept of nanobacteria and that
a recent review of the feasiblity of nanobacteria by a NAS panel found
that their existence (based on "known" architectures for life) was
pretty darn close to impossible. So a lot of handwaving is required
to tie oil & nanobacteria together. Now, that isn't to say that oil
isn't to be found in locations like those I outline above, some of
which are not considered to be "conventional" locations in which oil
"should" be found.

However, leaving aside the oil debate for a minute, I'll simply point
out that the current consumption of fossil fuels *AND* the beaming
the energy to the Earth from the moon do not appear to me to be
"recommended" solutions. Why? Because you are messing up the
ecological balance of the planet. We know we could potentially
have on a habitable planet with the CO2 levels in the atmosphere
several centuries ago (at least on multi-100-thousand year timescales).
We *don't* know if we have a planet which is habitable for the long
term with the current CO2 atmospheric levels *or* in a situation
where the Earth is receiving (and having to *radiate*) significantly
more energy than it currently absorbs from the sun [which is what
happens if you collect the energy on the moon and beam it to Earth].

So *unless* your energy plans include sprinkling white styrofoam
beads over much of the ocean's surface area or building cooling
towers into the stratosphere, I think you should consider that
a fossil fuel based energy supply and off-planet harvested energy
are really *bad* ideas. And before you start suggesting "engineered"
solutions (yea, I know you guys like to do this, just like me)
you better ask yourselves *how* good your computer models are and
what the limits are on climate predictability due to chaos effects?

I know some would say that in "bad" situations that economic conditions
would change (e.g. if global warming gets really serious, we put a
big tax on fossil fuels). But you run the risk of what happens
if there are catastrophic triggers? If global warming is just
enough to trigger the methane hydrates on the ocean floors to
vaporize things could get very bad very quickly -- much quicker
than economic adjustments could fix things.

Its the catastrophic risks where our knowledge base is really poor, e.g.
gamma ray bursts, asteroid impacts, methane hydrate stability, ocean
current stability, etc. that you need to take into account when
thinking about these situations before you promote various ideas.
Remember -- we *are* on the Titanic its just a question of whether
or not it sinks before we have the technology to plug the various
holes in the hull and can prevent further icebergs from hitting us.


This archive was generated by hypermail 2b30 : Sat May 11 2002 - 17:44:28 MDT